Sticking to my knitting.

Monday, October 22nd, 2001

So, I’m knitting. That is, I am trying to teach myself how to knit. My sudden desire to knit has been brought on by a combination of nervous energy, boredom and a need to do something with my hands other than type on a keyboard for hours and hours every day.

I definitely have an artsy-craftsy sort of streak in me. I love words, but a girl can’t live on language alone (well, this girl can’t, anyway). I’ve always felt the need to do something - to create something - with my hands. Beaded necklaces, wreaths of dried flowers, counted cross-stitch, crochet, painting, drawing, building models… I’ve done them all at one point or another, with varying degrees of frustration and success.

I’ve entered the realm of knitting before, too. My mom first showed me how to knit when I was about 13. I used these big, red plastic knitting needles to try to knit a scarf for myself. There was a very particular feel to those shiny plastic needles, and I’ve always remembered the way the yarn kind of squeaked as I slid the stitches along the needle. It startled me, really, when I started knitting again a few days ago and realized that my memory of knitting had been so true to life: the needles really do feel odd, kind of slippery and rubbery at the same time, and the yarn really does slide against the plastic with a squeak that’s more of a feeling than it is a sound.

I remembered really liking to knit - for the short time I did it. I don’t think my knitting phase lasted very long back when I was 13. I certainly never finished the scarf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, somewhere in the back of my closet at home, there were still two red knitting needles with about a foot’s worth of a red and white scarf stuck onto them.

It’s a pity, but you see, this is how it is with me: first of all, when I get it into my head that I want to do something, then I have to do it (whatever “it" is) right away. If I suddenly decide that I want a haircut, then I have to have a haircut immediately, and I will probably grab some scissors and cut my hair myself before waiting around for a week - or even a day - to get an appointment at a salon. If I decide that I want to bake a cake, then I will bake a cake immediately, even if it’s midnight (I’ve done it before - more than once). When I suddenly decided that I wanted to play the clarinet again, I went out that very day and bought a clarinet. I don’t like “shopping around,” I hate “biding my time,” I despise “thinking it over.” Call it impatience, call it a pathetic need for instant gratification - whatever it is, I just can’t stand to wait.

So when I decided last Thursday that I wanted to learn how to knit, I didn’t do the sensible thing - which would have been to wait until Christmas, when I will be in Arizona and can have my mom show me how to do it properly. No, I did the Jessica thing, which was to throw on some shoes, run to the nearest craft store, buy some needles and yarn, and then spend hours scouring the Internet for “learning how to knit” sites.

Secondly, when I really get into doing something, then I become obsessive about it. I want to do it all the time, and when I can’t do it, I just think about doing it until I can do it again. It happened when I started teaching myself how to play the guitar: if I was sitting in the same room as the guitar, I couldn’t just not play it. It’s happened with making jewelry, with playing cards, with doing crossword puzzles, even with decorating cakes (a brief, weird phase I went through several years ago). And now, of course, it’s happening with knitting. On Saturday, I was up until two in the morning, just knitting away. It’s become an addiction: “Just one more row, I’ll just knit one more row. Then I’ll stop. I can stop anytime I want, but I’ll just do one more row…"

And finally, the logical conclusion to all of this is that I burn out and completely stop doing whatever “it" is altogether. Don’t ask me when I last played the guitar (or the clarinet, for that matter). No beaded necklaces have been made for months, no floral wreaths have been created, no models built, no cakes decorated. No, now it’s time for knitting, and maybe in a few weeks, this obsession, too, will have passed, and I’ll be on to who knows what - needlepoint, or woodburning, or pottery.

I guess I’m horribly fickle. It’s just that there are so many things that I want to do and to try that it’s almost impossible for me to concentrate on any one thing long enough to actually get good at it. Once I’ve established that I can do something - even if I can’t do it very well - then something else captures my attention and I think, “Ooh, I’d like to give that a try…" Jack of all trades, as they say.

But maybe the knitting thing will hang on a bit longer. I’ve got great ambitions for the future, anyway. After my current project (The Scarf, which is looking a bit - um - amateur - but which is holding together in a vaguely scarf-like form), then I will move on to a shawl, perhaps, or even a sweater. In a few months time, I intend to be making all of my own knitted clothing. I’ll sell my surplus items for great profit. I’ll make a name for myself in the textile world.

Either that, or I’ll have a foot’s worth of a blue and grey scarf hanging off a pair of knitting needles in the back of my closet. Only time will tell.

Comments

1

I started knitting a little in high school, a little when I was about 21, and now, at 38, I am doing it again. I’ve quilted, crocheted and sewed alot in the past. One question….do you feel ok with yourself? I’ve just seen folks who start many projects that they never seem to finish, end up not feeling very good about themselves. Really, I don’t think finishing a project should determine how we view ourselves, but I am a project finisher.

Posted by M. Rosales

2

I feel really good about myself, actually. It’s not so much that I start projects I don’t finish (with the exception, perhaps, of that very first scarf so many years ago), it’s more that I go through phases of doing one thing, then dropping that and doing something else. I’d say that usually if I start a particular project, I do finish it, whether it’s a sweater, a necklace, or whatever.

And if anything, dabbling in a million different things probably makes me feel even better about myself than I might do otherwise. While it would be nice to be really amazing at one particular thing, it’s just not in my mindset to be that focused. I quite enjoy dipping in and out of a number of things. It keeps life interesting!

Posted by Jessica

3

I realize you wrote this entry three years ago. I just found it today while searching the Internet to learn whether knitting needles can go on airplanes these days. I’m a brand new knitter, one weird scarf under my belt, and have that same addiction thing going. Neccessary tasks like laundry, wrapping gifts for tomorrow and packing for a trip are falling by the wayside, so I can just "finish this ball." It’s a strange state of flow or something. Your entry made me smile; the similarity between the hobbies we’ve picked is funny — I play guitar, have made beaded necklaces, now knit. No cake decorating. I stumbled upon a quote by Tom Stoppard, the writer, recently that’s just too good. He says, "Ultimately, before being carried out feet first, I would like to have done a bit of absolutely everything. Really without any evidence for any talent in those directions, I find it very hard to turn down offers to write and underwater ballet for dolphins or a play for a motorcyclist on the wall of death."

Posted by cmcp

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